Isaiah 52:13-15: God’s Servant Will Be Exalted – Part 1 of 5

Isaiah 52:13-15: God’s Servant Will Be Exalted – Part 1 of 5

In this first stanza, God speaks about how His servant will be exalted and, in doing so, He makes three predictions concerning the Lord Jesus.

1. He will deal prudently: 52:13

Behold, My servant will deal prudently.” Four times in 1 Samuel 18 the NKJV translates “deal prudently”as“behave wisely”.After his victory over Goliath, “David behaved wisely.” Saul promoted him over all the men of war but then became jealous of him, removed him from his position and made him a captain, but “David behaved wisely in all his ways… when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him.” Saul continued to provoke David and again sought to kill him but “David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (1 Samuel 18:5, 14-15, 30). Whatever the circumstances in which he found himself, David did the right thing: he behaved wisely.

But the ESV translates these statements about David as follows: “David went out and was successful”;

David had success… Saul saw that he had great success”; “David had more success than all the servants of Saul”. The idea is that he knew what to do in each situation (he acted wisely) and as a result he accomplished what was desired (he was successful). So it was that the Lord Jesus always did and said the right thing at the right time in the right way. There never was any need for apology or regret on His part for something He had done or not done. Nothing could have been improved and, as a result, He successfully accomplished what He came into the world to do: “Father, I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You gave Me to do” (John 17:4).

To be truly successful is to walk wisely in harmony with the will of God as the Lord Jesus did. That’s why Joshua was twice told to “observe to do all according to all the law”, the outcome being “that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-8). The Lord Jesus likened the person who hears and obeys His sayings to a wise man who builds his house on a rock and when the storm comes the house stands still. Obedience to the word of God results in prosperity and success.

2. He will be very high: 52:13

He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.” On the day of Pentecost Peter reminded the people of Israel that they had rejected the Lord Jesus, had taken Him, and with wicked hands had crucified Him. Then he quickly pointed out that this One has been “exalted to the right hand of God” and “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Later, he wrote that God “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (1 Peter 1:21). Paul expressed the same truth, “God has highly exalted Him...” (Philippians 2:9-11); “He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all…” (Ephesians 1:20-23). The resurrection, ascension and present position at God’s right hand of the Lord Jesus represent God’s vindication of the person of His Son and God’s affirmation of the sufficiency of His sacrifice. They announce that sin has been atoned for, Satan has been defeated, death has been conquered, God has been satisfied, and the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, now vindicated and exalted.

The story of Joseph illustrates the point. His father loved him and honoured him and sent him on a mission. His brothers hated him and, when they saw him coming, they plotted against him and got rid of him as a slave into Egypt. The Egyptians accused him of a crime he had not committed and put him in prison. Then finally Pharaoh brought him out of prison and raised him up. He is exalted to the highest position in the land, given items that speak of authority and status: a royal signet ring, garments suitable for a king, a golden chain, royal robes, a new name, a bride and a royal carriage in which he could go through the land. Joseph was lord “over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41, 43, 45, 46). Joseph himself expressed it in these terms, “God has made me lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:9).

This exaltation of the Lord Jesus includes His assuming the position and glory which He previously had. In Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah tells us of his vision of the Lord “high” (translated “exalted” in Isaiah 52:13) and “lifted up” (translated “extolled” in Isaiah 52:13). There he sees the Lord in glory prior to the incarnation, the transcendent Lord of the universe, the object of angelic worship, high and lifted up. In Isaiah 52 God speaks about Him after His experience here on earth and points to the fact that He Who had been high and lifted up before the incarnation has been restored to the place that He once had. Indeed He has been made “very high”. This is what the Lord Jesus prayed for, “Glorify Me together with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). Just before He uttered these words, He rose from the table, laid aside His garments, wrapped Himself with a towel, washed the feet of the disciples and then He took His garments again and resumed His place at the table. It is a picture of how He voluntarily laid aside His divine majesty, wrapped Himself in human flesh and took the place of a servant among men. But when His work was done, He was glorified with the glory He previously had and sat down at the right hand of God.

3. He will sprinkle: 52:14- 15

So shall He sprinkle many nations” is a pivotal statement, coming between two expressions of astonishment.

At His first coming, “many were astonished at you” because “His visage was marred more than any man” and “His form more than the sons of men.

Subsequent to His suffering, “kings shall shut their mouths at Him” because “what had not been told them they shall see” and “what they had not heard they shall consider.

This has an application to this present age. The Levitical ritual involved sprinkling, sometimes with oil or water and oftentimes with blood which signified cleansing and consecration. For example, blood was sprinkled when the covenant was ratified (Exodus 24:3-8), during the consecration of the priests (Exodus 29:20-21), at the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:7), and on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:14). It is no surprise then that the New Testament should speak about “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22) and about “obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2). One of the effects of the sufferings of Christ is that He is sprinkling and cleansing many people with His blood. That’s why Paul applies this text to Gentiles who had not previously heard but to whom the good news had been brought: “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; and those who have not heard shall understand” (Romans 15:21). When they hear the message of the gospel they are amazed. This one had suffered to such an extent that His appearance was disfigured beyond recognition and His form in general was barely recognizable as human. How astonishing that, out of such cruel treatment and suffering, cleansing has been made available!

In this prophecy there is also an anticipation of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Some translations suggest the word “startle” as a possible translation, rather than “sprinkle”. Just as many were amazed and appalled at His physical appearance when He was brutally crucified, so in a coming day many will be startled at the sight of Him. They had not heard the prophetic word, but they will hear and will be amazed when He is manifested in glory. What an eye- opener it was for Joseph’s brothers when they came down to Egypt! They hadn’t heard about Joseph for more than twenty years but they were amazed as they stood in His presence. Years before, Joseph had two dreams which anticipated his brothers bowing the knee to him, but they would have none of it: they hated him, envied him and eventually sold him into slavery. But Joseph was now exalted over all the land of Egypt and four times we are told that his brothers bowed the knee to him or fell before him (Genesis 42:6; 43:26; 44:14; 50:18), thus acknowledging that Joseph was lord and that they were his servants. So in a coming day, the Lord Jesus will startle many nations. The despised man of Nazareth will emerge from Heaven in power and glory, subdue His enemies, establish His kingdom and reign in righteousness and peace, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

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